The snow doesn’t slow down the kids or the horses too much. This is in the middle of our snowstorm today – probably 6-8″ at the time of the walk, and now we’re approaching one foot. Now it’s time to go sledding!
They weren’t the first snowflakes we’ve seen this year, but the first real snow arrived today. It’s been falling gently since this morning and we’re at about 3/4″ so far. I know it won’t last through the week, but it’s peaceful and beautiful right now. Here are a few pics from around the farm.
It’s been a long time since we posted, simply because this Fall has been pretty overwhelmingly busy! To give you an idea of some of the things going on these past couple months at the Flying T…
Fall was spectacular this year, and though we got a light dusting, we didn’t have a repeat of the Halloween snowstorm of 2011. Here’s a pic of the Flying T in late fall from the air.
The beginning of Fall also brought some new additions to the Flying T. One is “Rocky,” our new black labrador puppy.
He’s growing fast, and has made friends with just about everybody except the house cat.
Fall is a wonderful time of year in New Hampshire – the temperatures are perfect for us, and get us out and moving even more than in summer. Here’s our son showing off some moves on his bike and a makeshift ramp he put together.
Our younger daughter had a “coming of age” milestone – reaching the age we have determined is the minimum to be allowed to operate the tractor solo. She’s been very proud of her newfound freedom and ability to pitch in to some of the heavier-duty chores.
The ducks hatched their last clutches of the season. They were much smaller than earlier in the year. We believe this is due of the loss of our prime drake to a predator a bit before they started setting.
With the new arrivals, we also had a few departures. Another duck to a predator, and a hen to a mishap. And then another departure due to sheer meanness. One of the roosters, “Big Daddy Rooster,” attacked the kids one too many times, so he is now at freezer camp.
Of course, the big news for the region was Hurricane Sandy. We escaped most of its wrath, though we did lose power for long enough for us to get the PTO-driven generator running. Our biggest need for power is to run the well – the horses alone go through about 30-40 gallons a day.
We found by running it only a few hours a day, we could replenish water supplies, get the family through the showers, and run a load of laundry. Thanks to all the linesmen and emergency workers who got power back up and running so quickly!
The power company also did us a huge favor this summer by cutting down some of the trees that had been threatening the lines (and thus our road and driveway also), so we had little cleanup to do post-Hurricane. However, since I was told to stay home from work, the chainsaw still got some work as we got back to clearing more of the back pasture.
I also ended up flying a few Hurricane response missions for FEMA with Civil Air Patrol. You can take a look at some of the 175,000 damage assessment photos we took at this link:
http://fema.apps.esri.com/checkyourhome/ (Zoom in about 3 clicks until you start seeing green dots around the NYC area. Each of those is a photo).
And so, as the fall winds up and the winter starts to move our way, we’re finishing up our preparations… just like this snapping turtle who two of our ducks escorted off the premises on her way to hibernation.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can post again! Blessings to all of you as we approach this season of Thanksgiving (though every day ought to be a time to be thankful)!
Many kids had their first week of school last week, as did ours. However, as homeschoolers, we can be a bit creative in how we spend those days. Last week, from Tuesday through Labor Day, the kids hit science hard… animal science. They did this through their participation in the Hopkinton State Fair in Contoocook, NH. This was the capstone event after a year of hard work with animals, crafts, and other 4H and farm endeavors. All that effort really paid off!
Our 8yo son’s big project this year has been his chickens. If you’ve read our blogs, you know that he runs the egg business on the farm. Since he is too young this year to show animal projects with 4H, he entered his barred rock rooster in the open class… and won best in show! We’ll add pictures later of him holding his rooster and ribbon, but here are a few we’ve already downloaded.
His sisters also won blue ribbons for their duck pairs, with Hana winning “Best pair of ducks” overall.
Friday was the horse show, and Holly was blessed to have her coach, Janine, from Gelinas Farms volunteer to spend the day with her. Janine’s biggest challenge was not helping with getting Zip ready (4H rules state that the kid does all the work), but she really helped out with last-minute coaching tips.
All that coaching made a difference, and Holly ended up winning Grand Champion for her class!
Saturday was the 4H goat show, and the girls really enjoyed doing that for the first time – they earned blue ribbons in several events, with Holly and Ruby edging out Hana and Samy at the end.
Sunday and Monday topped off the long weekend, with pack and obstacle courses, knowledge tests and a quiz bowl, volunteering at the 4H exhibits and food stands, and lots of feeding, cleaning, and talking to the public. The kids had earned enough ribbons to fill their walls (and enough premiums to treat themselves and their animals to some new gear). By the time we pulled out of the fair Monday evening, we were all ready for a rest!
It’s been a while since we last posted – the summer has been busier than we expected both on the farm and at the jobs that are making this farm possible right now! So, it was quite the blessing that we were able to get away for 5 days to explore a bit more of God’s creation at Acadia National Park in Maine.
Acadia National Park covers about 47,000 acres of coastal Maine. Largely contained on Mount Desert Island, the park has a vast assortment of forests, rocky cliffs, mountains, lakes, ponds, streams, and coastline. In addition to the natural beauty, what drove us to select Acadia as our vacation spot was the approximately 50 miles of carriage roads throughout the park, a legacy of Nelson Rockefeller.
Though most say the best time to visit the park is Fall, my work schedule made August a better fit, and so in early Spring, we made our reservations at Wildwood Stables and campgrounds (run by Carriages of Acadia, a NPS concessionaire). With our plans to tent camp, the hot dry summer had us a bit worried, but the weather couldn’t have been better. High 70s during the day, beautifully chilly sleeping weather at night, and only one real rainstorm to challenge the waterproof qualities of our tents!
By Tuesday night, we had the truck and trailer packed so that on Wednesday morning, we only had to throw the food in the coolers, get the horses into the trailer, and be on our way.
Um… did I say “only” get the horses into the trailer?
As you may have read before, we have a bit of a history when it comes to trailering. Zip, our Quarter horse, is meek and mild – our oldest daughter points, he loads, she clips him in, moves the divider into place, and he’s done. It takes about 30 seconds.
Jasper, our Haflinger cross (our son now calls him our “Quarterflinger” because we think the other part of him is Quarter horse), takes a bit more effort. Everybody takes their places – one of our daughters at the door, my wife at the “butt bar,” our other daughter with the handi-stick, me with the lead rope, and our son safely elsewhere. Then, we see if it’s going to be an easy day, where he walks in with little effort, or a hard day, which can take up to an hour.
Wednesday was a hard day. In fact, it got pretty close to being the last day. After several false starts, we got him into the trailer, but I was a bit slow to get him clipped in. When the butt bar came across, he decided to turn around and get back out, forcing me between him and the bar (a length of chain running through a thick PVC pipe and bumper cover). The bar did a pretty good Heimlich maneuver on me (fortunately I’d had a light breakfast) before I managed to move to the side, and we all, Jasper included, had a pretty good scare. On the good side, he loaded right up after that!
So, first adventure safely completed, and a good bruise starting on my hipbone, we headed out on the 5 hour drive to the park, which passed quite uneventfully. We arrived in the evening and went straight to getting the horses stabled and the tents pitched. Wildwood has about 30 self-service boarding stables in three metal barns, in very good condition, with plenty of trailer parking space. The tent sites are closer together than we’d like but very clean, flat, and serviceable (though the water is across the road at the stables). With the horses walked, watered, fed, and stabled, we collapsed into our sleeping bags and fell asleep.
The next morning, after a good camp breakfast of pancakes, eggs (David’s eggs, of course), a quick trip to get a park pass (thank you taxpayers for the free military NPS passes!) we headed out on our first adventure. The girls rode the horses up to the top of Day mountain while I rode my bicycle alongside. Meanwhile, my wife and son hoofed up the shorter, steeper trail to meet us (David got a ride towards the top).
Up on the small mountain, we enjoyed some snacks, talking with other visitors, and the views (somewhat obscured by fog and clouds) before heading back home.
Our first round trip was about 6 hilly miles, and the horses were exhausted, so after lunch we gave them a break and went to the Seal Harbor beach with the kids. The next day, we spent more time on the trails, a bit over 13 miles between the two trips – girls on horseback, the rest of us on bike.
In addition to the carriage roads, Rockefeller’s construction included unique stone bridges and gatehouses, like this one near Jordan Pond.
Of course, no campout is complete without a campfire.
That evening after dinner, we built the fire up a bit bigger and sat around it. Mike, the owner of Carriages of Acadia, stopped by to talk about the operation. The main business is providing carriage rides through the park – he expects over 24,000 customers this year! The girls, of course, were spellbound, and when they mentioned wanting to learn how to drive carriages, he graciously invited them for a barn tour and carriage ride the next morning.
After a couple more days of exploring on horseback, bike, foot, and car, we headed home. Thankfully, Jasper loaded a bit better this time, and we arrived back at the Flying T in good shape. Great teamwork by the family got the unpacking done, and great neighbors watching the farm in our absence made the whole trip possible!
Summer is arriving at the Flying T. Here are some recent pics that tell a story about what that means on the farm.
It’s been really rainy lately, but today we have a good bit of sun… just in time for our son’s baseball game!
The ducklings are now a month old. Just before the three week point, one of the other ducks (Mocha) adopted them as her own. Unfortunately, this meant that she stepped off her own nest a week early, so we lost a clutch of 20.
However, she has been a great mother, and guards over them dutifully so that they can eat, drink, and swim… and take naps in the sunlight outside the barn.
For the past week, Mocha has been bringing the brood on a field trip each morning down to the beaver pond. They spend most of the day there, swimming and eating bugs and weeds, then waddle back to the barn in the afternoon.
Try to find her if you can… this pic was taken with my phone, so the resolution isn’t the best. Once you think you’ve found her, look below. You should be able to imagine Mocha’s blurry brown and white form with a mass of ducklings swimming in front. There also is a brood of wild Mallards sharing the pond, and we’re hoping that another of our Muscovy hens, Sunset, is sitting on a clutch hidden nearby.
Katy was the next to start her nest in the barn. She’s been on for about a week, so about 27 days left in her vigil before the peeps start happening.
Summer means that the grass is growing quickly, especially with all of our rain. This gets the horses frisky.
The grass has been too wet to mow around the house, but with a bit of help from the temporary electric fence we use when trailering, we found a greener solution to the lawnmower.
Still, there’s plenty of work to be found. I’m a bit behind in putting away wood. The good thing is that we have a good bit left over from last year. Here’s the current pile I need to split, and I’ve got another cord lying in the woods right now waiting for me to cut into logs and drag out.
After an hour or so of work, I’ve got a good pile of cut wood waiting for the kids to start stacking (and still a whole lot more to split)!
More to come!
It’s been pretty crazy-busy here at the Flying T (and at our other activities, including the professions that support them), and looking back I can see it’s been nearly three weeks since our last post. It’s not that we didn’t have anything about which to write – we actually have a ton of material, especially after the superb New Hampshire Grazing Conference last weekend! We simply haven’t had time to write.
Today, God gave us some time, in the form of a snowstorm that so far has dumped about 9″ on us and is still going strong!
The snow kept me from going to work, and meant that even though the snow provided some additional chores (plowing and shoveling), it also provided lots of time to do other things: Chores we’ve been putting off, completing our 2011 taxes, and of course… writing! So, I thought about which of the multitude of topics I might write about, and then I saw this out my window:
I said to myself, “Self, this is not a day to spend writing about serious things.” So, my wife and I put our winter chore clothes back on and headed out to play with the kids. We even got some sledding runs in.
So, no “important” writing in the post today. Instead, I’ll finish with some pics of the snowmen the girls put together for the goats and horses to snack on.
Wherever you are, I hope you also have some time to play with your kids!
Our oldest daughter got tired of waiting for me to finish the story, so here is her account of the next day, after the horses had enjoyed a couple days’ break from trailering. Her words start here:
Aww, Dad, you stopped right before the best part!
Anyways, while Dad and Mr. G were hitching up the trailer and whatnot, my siblings, our friends, and I decided to take a walk with the horses in the G’s field. This was partly for our exercise and partly so that Mr. Anti-Trailer wouldn’t see the scary metal box that these crazy humans made him stand in.
After a little while, Jasper decided to walk off, pulling my sister so hard that she dropped his lead rope. We recaught him and walked on.
When we returned, the two G girls were each proudly walking a horse (with help). While I put Zip’s trailer halter on, the youngest of our friends, who was scratching Zip’s neck, much to his snorty pleasure, looked up a me and said, “I think I’m addicted to horses.”
We pushed all the stuff we’d used back into the trailer (five or so bales of hay make it hard to do this), and took out our trusty Handy Stick. We knew we were ready for anything a twelve-hundred pound horse with a sharp pair of hooves could throw at us.
As usual, we weren’t.
Jasper usually knows that Mom is boss. But, it depends on her tone of voice. If she says “Mister Jabba-Wabba baby, do you wanna get in da twaiwer?” then he will refuse for the rest of the session. If she says “Come on, buster. Let’s get in,” he says “Whoa. She means business here.” (OK, I’m exaggerating – Mom never talks to him like a baby – but she did learn to be firmer with him).
At least, that was how it happened in Texas when our feisty steed knew he was going to only have to stay in there, with his haybag full, for five minutes or so. But this day he said, “Wait a second. I’m not wearing my rope halter. I’m wearing the web one with the blue fuzzy things on it. and everybody’s hugging each other like they’re leaving. You know, I think I’m staying in there for a while. Nope, not gonna do it.”
With that, he threw out buck and a rear, and galloped off over our friends’ lush lawn. A fairy-tale picture, I know, a Horse with a long mane running, free, over a green meadow.
That is, until you notice the dangling lead and the fact that your fairy-tale mount is gamely crossing a road and going for those tasty flowers in the neighbor’s yard.
Mom, Dad and I ran after him, shaking the treats. Jasper said, “Uh-uh. I know where you’re taking me.”
Mom and Dad cornered him by going around opposite sides of the neighbor’s house, and Dad finally caught his lead rope. Jasper hung his head.
Dad now took over. After longing the escapee for a few minutes, he tried to lead Jasper into the trailer. Jasper refused.
Let me deviate from the plot. May I say that sweet old Zip had been waiting patiently in said trailer for about half an hour, now?
We longed Jasper whenever he refused to get in the trailer. After a long time (our friends, after seeing Jasper’s various bucks, kicks, and rears, decided to watch from afar) we finally got him in.
We were headed to Ohio. More adventures were in store.
The snow hit a few days early… we’re hoping it holds for a few days. Meanwhile, the light tonight was so good I had to drop chores to take photos.
Upon reflection, and after unloading and stacking ~240 bales this afternoon with the assistance of my oldest daughter and Kevin from 3D Farm Products, I have come to the realization that there are few things more redundant than owning both a farm and a gym membership.
That got me thinking more. People are shelling out good money for gym memberships… why not offer spa and fitness center services along with eggs and meat?
Meet one of our personal trainers as she demonstrates a Flying T signature move – the “45-lb dead-lift-and-heave.”
Some spas tout their “hot rock” treatments. At the Flying T, we find cold rocks do a better job of strengthening backs.
Our middle daughter’s favorite exercise is the double bucket lift.
Another oldie-but-goodie is firewood stacking (we also offer splitting mauls to mix aerobics into your strength routine).
The wheelbarrow haul is great for legs, arms, and shoulders, while also building core strength.
Looking for more of an aerobic workout? Chasing chickens beats windsprints any day.
Another aerobic exercise we discovered last week was the midnight horse chase… to set it up, the kids need to forget to close the pasture gate. The rules for the exercise are that you have to be lying in bed and can’t start chasing the horses until you hear hoofbeats running past your window.
But wait, there’s more! Goat wrestling, fence pulling, horse saddling, hoof-picking, duck finding… we’ve got endless exercises to keep you trim and fit.
Don’t take a vacation, take a Fitness “Hay-cation!” Contact us today!
BTW, in all seriousness, if you need quality hay delivered in Vermont or New Hampshire, we highly recommend the Daly Brothers, Kevin and Marshall: email@example.com. In addition to their trailer (240 squares or 22 rounds), they also can deliver by the tractor trailer load (about 700 squares). We don’t get anything for referrals, but tell them the Flying T sent you… and ask them how they liked the jams!
One more note – lots of farmers in New England, including the Daly’s, lost crops or didn’t get much of a 2nd cut due to all the rain late this summer, but costs are still pretty close to last year. We’re still praying for all those down in the South and Southwest dealing with the drought. See our poll and tell us how much hay is going for in your neck of the woods!